A/N I'm sorry! Me being me, I forgot to mention that I was away on a surfing holiday for a week, so feel free to kick my ass about that. The past week however, I am not as much to blame as the "Server time-out error" has returned with a vengeance and I spent near on 2 hours fixing it on and off tonight :/ But aha! I have the little beastie in my grasp and I'm not letting go! But honestly, I deserve whatever you want to say to me about lateness *blush* I'm so sorry! But this chapter is reeeaaallllyyy long, and I mean, ultra-long, so I guess that's a little better I suppose :/
However, oh God I don't want to say it: This is the last chapter guys *cue me breaking down into really loud embarrassing sobs* I've left thanks at the end of this chapter guys, but to everyone who reviewed/alerted/favourite last chapter: Thanks for keeping me focused over this week of no uploading (gah!) and motivating me to sit down and fix it (despite me knowing very, very little about the internet :/) So thank you very very much for taking out the time to do that for me! :D God, I'm gunna miss you all (No Storystuff, save it for the end of the chap :/ )
Disclaimer: So, I visited Sherlock. Now, it may have been the flying monkeys behind me, but something gave away to him that I was the one trying to kidnap him (I blame the suspicious looking tea stain on my shirt) but after much grovelling, he finally understood. He also told me that I was a very strange stalker who needed a hobby (he wasn't pleased when I told him that he was my hobby). So… we have now what you call a "difficult relationship", you know, I fangirl message him, he ignores it…I fangirl squee him… he ignores it. That kind of thing. However what I do want to say now the fanfic is coming to an end is that we all have a piece of Sherlock to ourselves, whether he be a Hurt/Comfort!Sherlock, an Awkward!Sherlock, a Happy!Sherlock or just a plain old by the book Sherlock, we all have one, if he's down on paper or not, and we mustn't forget that, because the fangirl side of us is rooting for him to appear in the 3 episodes this year, and the longer series planned for 2012! (Can I hear a woopwoop!) So whether it's that bit of fluff or slashy hintings, that smidgem of H/C or that awkward!Sherlock moment, it's safe to say that we've always got a little bit of Sherlock to keep our hearts warmed up…
However for the people who can't wait that long: The ownership of Sherlock is still very much up for grabs, so I for one am planning my next assault! So don't be surprised if you see me, 98Shaddowolff98 and a dozen others on CrimeWatch for stealing away with Benedict Cumberbatch and Martin Freeman. It's nothing personal; it is a free for all after all ;)
Longest disclaimer ever. And now the mushy bit is over, on with the fanfic! (And more comfort than you can shake a stick at ;P)
Sherlock coughed a little, his chest feeling like his lungs were one giant bruise. He groaned but tried to muffle it into a pillow so not as to alert John who was busying himself in the kitchen. It had been only a few days since the explosion at the hospital and, in all honesty, Sherlock was happy just to be back at 221B Baker Street again with his mother hen busying away in the kitchen, even with bruises and burns and whatever else he had to argue against having in order to be allowed home and not being sent to some other hospital elsewhere in London. He sighed and buried his face further into the pillow. Lying face first on the sofa may not seem to John like an effective get-well tactic, but Sherlock liked it and had so far refused to move from the position for long periods of time.
Sherlock stiffened when he heard the clinking of a spoon being put down in the kitchen and he let out a groan, louder this time, in annoyance when he heard John pad into the room. Obviously his attempts at hiding any form of discomfort hadn't been successful in the least, a note that made Sherlock scowl unhappily, resolving to further improve his acting skills once his chest started allowing him to breathe more air than that that of a five year olds capacity.
"Sherlock, are you okay?" John asked and Sherlock felt him come to sit on the coffee table by the sofa. It was usually something John despised Sherlock doing, saying it would mark Mrs Hudson's furniture, but it seemed okay for him to do it when he was worrying over something. Hypocrite, Sherlock thought, but it did always give Sherlock a gauge on just how worried John was about something. Standing by the kitchen archway equalled a smaller amount, but the coffee table was a completely different league. Sherlock smirked at that.
Refusing to give John further reason to ask if he was okay for what must be the hundredth time (sixteenth, actually, Sherlock calculated), Sherlock simply let out an incoherent mumble in reply. Apparently that was the wrong answer as Sherlock heard John sit down on the floor next to the sofa, crossing his legs and reaching for the little stockpiled first-aid kit underneath the couch. Oh dear, Sherlock thought, sitting on the floor. It's past the stage of worry now, I cannot help his condition. Unwilling to allow his friend to suffer any further he rolled onto his back grudgingly, pain flaring unwanted in his legs as he moved, but Sherlock knew from experience that it was better to appease John than to let him continue to fester in his thoughts. He could be almost as stubborn as Mycroft at times.
The thought made Sherlock stop for a moment, lost in his contemplation as John dug around for painkillers that would bring about the ordinary "I'm fine" routine that was really only for shows sake, being completely unnecessary around John, especially as he insisted that it never fooled him for a moment. But Sherlock always felt the need to at least set up some form of formality, just for the sake of the moment, for the sake of avoiding awkward questions like "Are you really okay?" and "Do you want to talk about it?" That was the worst one. Sherlock didn't want to talk about any of it, and he had told John so while coming back to Baker street. He had never asked again after that, but Sherlock could sense the question brewing under the surface. Sherlock sure as hell didn't want to talk about any of it; it wasn't like it would help.
Mycroft hadn't asked any of those questions and this thought made Sherlock stop to wonder about where exactly his older brother was right now. It was a strange thought, and it was accompanied by an even stranger sensation that Sherlock could barely make out. He'd never missed Mycroft being around before, he'd never felt safer when Mycroft was around, so why was he wondering where he was? It was strange. Spending time with him had been interesting, of course, but it had been something else too. It had almost felt safer to know that his brother had been protecting him, but Sherlock shook the feeling. He would deal with that thought when it came to it.
He gave John a glare as his flatmate finally dug out the box of no doubt high-strength painkillers.
"Oh come on Sherlock, you need to take these. You can't do everything yourself," John said, looking tired. Sherlock wasn't surprised that he was tired. Sherlock was embarrassed enough at being looked after, especially since for a while now all he seemed to be doing was relying on somebody else, but John seemed to have been keeping awake at all hours of the day. In the morning when Sherlock woke up, John would be in the kitchen, making breakfast, but whenever he woke in the night, trying to muffle the sounds of a nightmare so as not to wake him, there was always the strong, steady hand on his shoulder to pull him into the waking world, away from the nightmares. There was no wonder that he was tired.
"I don't need pills John," Sherlock lied. In reality, he was in agony, his legs still feeling like they would spontaneously combust at any moment, a thought which brought back cringing memories of how the first bomb could have gone for him…and the second for Mycroft. He fled the thought angrily, squeezing his eyes shut against it. Delete it, just delete it.
John sighed, setting the pills very deliberately on the arm of the sofa as his phone rang. He gave Sherlock a look before he answered and said playfully, "This isn't over you know". Sherlock raised an eyebrow, grinning. Sherlock had already deduced that whoever was on the phone was going to keep John busy long enough for him to sneakily palm the pills out of sight.
Sherlock looked up, his usual inquisitiveness only managing a dull, almost bored interest, his head already throbbing with the strain of simple movements.
"What, Harry, no…Harry, stop, let me explain, I-" Sherlock coughed out a chuckle at John's apparent discomfort and sneakily reached back to hide the pills behind him. He smiled softly, felling inexplicably pleased with himself and laid back once again, this time allowing his head to fall all the way back onto the cushion behind him.
"Harry, listen, don't be like that, come on…" he heard John say and then John was heading into the kitchen, looking more nervous than before and Sherlock sighed irritably. Siblings. God forbid we could have been born only children. He heard a message bleep on his mobile, the phone being only on the coffee table nearby, but Sherlock looked at it disdainfully.
"John? Can you get my phone for me?" Sherlock tried calling, but it ended up as nothing over a grumble-like noise and Sherlock snarled in frustration, but John's ever listening ears had apparently picked up the noise as a moment later he came wandering back in, worry lines creasing his forehead as he picked up Sherlock's phone, his own still attached to his ear as if he was listening to someone ranting on the other end. But then by the din coming from the other end of the phone that Sherlock could hear from where he was laid, he was, choice phrases being "You could have gotten yourself killed" and "Why didn't you call me or something?"
John lifted the ear from his phone, giving that tired look again that for some reason made Sherlock's stomach twist guiltily and mouthed something. Immediately Sherlock groaned and buried his face into the sofa dramatically. Mycroft is coming over. Despite the inexplicable feeling of interest Sherlock had recently been maintaining, Mycroft was definitely not something he needed right now. Mycroft was going to make him talk about things, the last thing Sherlock wanted to do was have to have "a little chat" with his brother about what had happened with mother. He shuddered a little as his mind drifted back to that day and he tried to push the thoughts down, for now finding them impossible to fully delete.
"What? Now? Harry, I have Sherlock to look after, he's still healing up and…"
"I am not a child John," Sherlock snapped, interrupting the conversation. He almost felt John bristle.
"If you think I'm leaving you alone with no one to help out round here just so I can stop Harry worrying over nothing then you have another thing coming Sherlock, I-"
Sherlock found the weak spot in John's argument and leapt upon it, but he felt his thoughts stutter jarringly over the idea, even if it didn't show in his voice.
"Mycroft will be here. Go see your sister John," Sherlock argued and he had to grit his teeth not to say that he'd take it all back. He wanted some time to himself, and John really did need some time away after everything he'd been doing over the past few days, but having Mycroft round here was a grudging thought even as just an idea.
"Say hi to your sister for me when you see her too," Sherlock said before John could argue, "I don't believe I have ever been acquainted with her before"
John sighed audibly and Sherlock tuned out of the rest of the conversation, halfway between sulking, and not being bothered to actually sulk properly. In fact, it was John who dragged him back into reality a few minutes later, Sherlock blinking slowly into reality.
"Sherlock! Your brother's here, at least try and look pleased," John said and Sherlock shook himself and tried to sit up, not wanting his brother to see him looking as weak and pathetic as he probably did lying down. He knew from his reflection in the mirror he'd seen this morning as he'd gone to get a (rather clumsy, painful) shower that he looked awful and had purposefully been attempting to hide away from the world since then. Unfortunately, the knock at the door of the flat was apparently insistent that he wasn't going to be hiding very much for very long.
Sherlock felt a hand gently place itself on his chest, effectively stopping him from getting up and he groaned, glaring at the owner of the hand.
"You need to stop moving around Sherlock," John pleaded and Sherlock had to harden his glare in order not to cave and ask John to stay right there and then.
"I don't need a babysitter John, I'm perfectly fine," Sherlock said instead and John, obviously not believing the half-hearted lie, raised an eyebrow and sighed, going to get the door.
"Then promise me that you won't act like a child and I won't have to babysit you," John teased, but Sherlock heard the worried undertone, the quick hurried whisper to Mycroft as John opened the door about being careful around him. I'm not made of glass, I can take care of things myself, Sherlock wanted to insist, but he decided that he was definitely better of bringing that subject up lately, when he could hold his own in an argument once more without feeling dizzy from the strain on his wounds.
He glared idly as John invited Mycroft in, his brother's aloof air seeming almost tangible in the room, and it made Sherlock crinkle his nose and look irritably at his older sibling.
"Listen, Sherlock, thanks, for this, Harry…she gets worried over me, but honestly, if you don't want me to go-" John began. No, don't go, Sherlock thought desperately, please stay here.
"John, leave." Sherlock said simply and he saw Mycroft shoot him a surprised, dubious look from the kitchen entrance where he was stood observing Sherlock's experiments on the kitchen table. John seemed to internally debate for a moment, but then Sherlock gave him a glare that made up his mind for him.
"Alright, just, take care of yourself, okay?" John said and Sherlock rolled his eyes.
"Alright, alright, I'm going!" John said and he picked up his keys from the side, sharing a knowing look that nearly sent Sherlock into a rant straight away. He hated it when people knew things he didn't. John gave him a smile and left, the silence in the room amazingly blissful after he had gone. Usually silence bored Sherlock like crazy, but when it came to talking with Mycroft, silence suited him just fine.
The quiet stayed for a long time, the room seeming cold and deathly in its stillness before Mycroft made his way across the room, drawing up a chair to sit on and he sat, gazing, watching Sherlock intently. Sherlock noticed it all, the way Mycroft moved as mutely as a cat does when stalking its prey, much like Sherlock himself did when he was on a case. He didn't know Mycroft could do that, he'd always been so distasteful of legwork, but Sherlock saw that his tread was a lot like his own. And the way he was sitting made Sherlock bristle warily. He knew that it was just Mycroft, nothing to be afraid of there, but he was, and always had been, habitually suspicious of his brother and now as he looked at him as if he was deducing, as Sherlock often did, the old habit was kicking in and Sherlock watched him closely, each brother silently taking in the other's situation.
Much to Sherlock's surprise, Mycroft didn't speak when he had expected him too; instead he leant back in his chair and seemed to be calculating something idly in his mind.
"Did you come here for a reason Mycroft or did you just come to stare since I'm sofa-bound?" Sherlock snapped, grinding out the words behind clenched teeth.
"How have you been holding up Sherlock?"
Sherlock was taken aback by the abrupt speech, the tone that clearly showed that either Mycroft hadn't even been listening to what Sherlock had said, or he was refusing to answer even if he had. Sherlock growled and bit his lip to hold back a biting, angry remark. It felt different, holding back a furious retort instead of letting it fly and Sherlock had to hold back the need to forget about everything and say it anyway. As it was though, he settled with a dark stare in his brother's direction, his defences building themselves up high. He'd shown enough of himself recently to be allowed the dignity to hold some things back at least.
"I'm fine, Mycroft and how are you?" Sherlock shot back and Mycroft gave him that very same cold, impassive look that he sometimes gave to police whenever he had shown up to one of Sherlock's crime scenes.
"I was only asking Sherlock, I thought that maybe perhaps you would need to talk about it."
"Well I don't."
There was a silence and the longer it went on for, the more Sherlock had the feeling that Mycroft didn't believe a word he had said, that his façade hadn't been nearly good enough to fool his brother. Sherlock winced. He'd spent days dreading this, the time when he'd have to face up to it. John had tried to get him to talk of course, but each time had been worse than the last until finally Sherlock had yelled at John to leave him alone. Not that John had taken any notice of course, he had come back only a moment later with two cups of tea and a blanket for Sherlock, but he had kept to his word and not spoken about the subject again after that. But with his brother, Sherlock doubted he'd be so lucky. He sighed and turned his head to stare at the ceiling.
"There's nothing to talk about Mycroft," he said quietly and he saw his brother nod slowly from the corner of his eye.
"Is that what you told Dr Watson?" Mycroft asked, "I can't imagine he took that very well" Sherlock gave a chuckle.
"He wasn't too bad…he made tea," Sherlock said and Mycroft laughed too.
"I'm not making tea if that's what you're wanting"
"Ah yes, how could I forget? Mycroft Holmes, the coffee drinker"
"Tea is for people with the time to drink it Sherlock, coffee is a more on the go beverage"
"For all of the business type people," Sherlock said, completing the sentence that Mycroft had jokingly said to Sherlock over 8 years ago, when they had once had a meeting at the Scotland Yard offices on one of Sherlock's cases. As Sherlock recalled, it was one of the few times since he was a child that he had smiled at something Mycroft had said to him.
"Exactly." Mycroft said and Sherlock smiled.
The tone significantly lightened, Sherlock felt himself uncurl a little and he stretched, ignoring the burning sensation that pricked his legs. As if reading his thoughts, or more likely the expression on his face, Mycroft raised an eyebrow and looked at his brother sceptically.
"Not taking pain medication again I see," he said, the tone almost a warning and Sherlock crinkled his nose at it, "It won't make up any better". Sherlock shrugged but Mycroft was giving him that stare, the one that allowed no argument.
"Sherlock," Mycroft warned and Sherlock made a small frustrated noise. Reluctantly, he put the pill he had palmed earlier onto the coffee table, Mycroft sighing irritably as he looked at it.
"One pill Sherlock, it would take all of five seconds, so why-"
"I don't like taking pills".
It was sulky, almost petulant, but the tone went almost unnoticed to Mycroft. Expression softening, he dropped his eyes to the little bottle of pills on the side.
"No, you never have," Mycroft said. A moment passed and then, very slowly, Sherlock reached out, taking the pill and the water on the side. Mycroft leaned forwards and helped Sherlock to sit up a little. Sherlock grimaced, looking disdainfully at the pill.
"As I heard it," Mycroft said, "There was a rather peculiar case I arrived at the scene of when you and Dr Watson had first met". Sherlock frowned and then looked practically open mouthed at Mycroft.
"You cannot make that comparison. I was proving a point," Sherlock said. Mycroft smirked.
"You were going to take a pill then, were you really going to do it? How on earth you'd have dry swallowed it I'd never know since you moan constantly whenever I tried to make you take one," Mycroft teased.
"I was proving a point!"
"Did he tell you to stop stalling and get it over and done with?" Mycroft said dryly and Sherlock scowled, putting the pill in his mouth and swallowing, washing it down quickly with the water. He narrowed his eyes at Mycroft who raised his eyebrows at him.
"I was stalling, actually, I was waiting for John to get there," Sherlock said. Mycroft looked sceptically at him and put his hand at his back to help him ease down once more.
"But I definitely had the right pill!" Sherlock added quickly, "It was child's play really, very obvious which one it was"
"I never doubted you for a moment," Mycroft drawled and Sherlock scowled, allowing himself to be helped back to where he had laid before and he squirmed a little to get comfortable.
Pulling the blanket over him a little, Mycroft stayed where he was, leaning forwards slightly, worried eyes on Sherlock.
"For the record however," he said, "I am glad that you didn't take the pill"
"I thought you said that you hadn't doubted me?" Sherlock countered and Mycroft shrugged.
"Well, personally I'd have gone for the other pill," Mycroft teased.
"You'd have been wrong"
"I'm sure I would have been," Mycroft said, and he didn't catch the playfully sour look Sherlock shot his way. Sherlock let his eyes drift to a stain that had procured itself on the carpet a few months ago, probably from one of his experiments, and wondered if there was a chemical way to remove it, as Mrs Hudson had had no look, even with a bleach smelling thing that had made the carpet smell awfully for days.
"Are you really feeling alright Sherlock?" Mycroft said softly and Sherlock, attention not drawn, merely nodded. Maybe a cyanide-sodium mixture would get it out.
"You've been through a lot and I…I do worry about you sometimes," Mycroft said. Another nod. I don't know if Mrs Hudson would be so pleased if I put cyanide on the carpet… again.
"Sherlock," Mycroft said, "listen to me. Listen to me." Sherlock flinched back as a hand lightly tilted his chin to look towards his brother, his entire body jolting back. He stared, wide-eyed at his brother and he felt a full-body shake quiver down his spine.
"You're not okay," Mycroft said, a statement, not a guess, "And I wouldn't expect you to be. But you need to talk about this or it'll just get worse".
The older brother's eyes met the wide, shocked eyes of his little brother and he held them, hoping he was conveying everything he wanted too, but with a rational mind like his, he knew that wasn't possible. Sherlock closed his eyes for a brief moment and took in a loud, shuddering breath before he, eyes still tightly closed, rolled over so that Mycroft could only see the back of his brother's head, the curls flattened on one side by the pillow. He was about to say something in protest when Sherlock's voice came out, surprisingly strong, and it sounded as if he was right then and there in the process of deducing a particularly difficult murder case.
"I thought you were going to die. I thought I was going to lose you and then I would never get to tell you that I was sorry," Sherlock confessed and Mycroft felt a little taken aback by the honesty, unsure of exactly what to do with it now he had it. He had expected cryptic answers and riddles, teasing quotations and a whole lot of skirting around the issue, and the blatant statement made Mycroft feel uncomfortable, out of his depth. He considered momentarily if Dr Watson had anything to do with the fact that, even just by a bit, Sherlock had become a little more knowledgeable in the field of emotions, if only by a little, without Mycroft's noticing.
"I didn't want her to die, but I thought you were going to be gone for good and I…" Sherlock broke off and Mycroft could imagine the uncomfortable look on his face, "I never meant for that to happen".
Mycroft didn't say anything but looked admiringly at his brother. Despite everything they'd been through, Sherlock had turned out one of the good guys and, even if not everyone saw that, Mycroft could see it. But in all honesty, after everything that he himself had been through, he hadn't needed to see it. Maybe they didn't always see eye to eye, but Sherlock had always been around for Mycroft to come back to, and Mycroft for Sherlock. Mycroft didn't know exactly what that counted for, but he was sure that, to him, it meant a lot.
"Sherlock," Mycroft said softly, "I went back into the hospital because I chose to, because I'm your big brother, and that makes it my job to look after you, directly or indirectly"
"But what if you'd-"
"If you thought about what would happen for everything then you'd go insane, you can't do that to yourself Sherlock. I was going to come out, I was going to come back for you," Mycroft said. He didn't mention the moment when he had been sure that he wasn't going to be coming back out at all. Sherlock didn't need that right now.
Sherlock nodded and Mycroft felt himself smile internally at the long curls moving up and down. He never did get it cut, despite Mycroft's complaining on numerous occasions that it was getting to long.
"Sherlock, about mother…"
"Just let me talk to you Sherlock," Mycroft said sternly, "You don't have to keep on lying like that. If you don't want to talk…well then…that's fine, but don't lie about it." Sherlock thought for a moment, reluctant but eventually he spoke, slowly, unsure.
"I might not be completely okay about it," he admitted, "But it's not like I thought it would be. After you went back into the hospital… and you came back, you didn't leave me, even when there were all those odds and… I didn't think that I would have to alone anymore. I still have family…" Mycroft nodded, even though he knew Sherlock wouldn't see it.
"I'm not going anywhere soon Sherlock and she's not going to hurt you anymore. It's always been just us Sherlock and that's not going to change. And you've got Dr Watson, and your job and even that housekeeper of yours-"
"Landlady," Sherlock smirked.
"Landlady. But what I'm getting at is that you have family Sherlock, even when they're not related, and you have friends too, even when they're friends that just happen to be related to you as well," Mycroft smiled and Sherlock turned his head to look at him, hope filling his eyes. Mycroft put a hand on his shoulder and hoped to God that Sherlock wasn't going to pull away, breathing out slowly when Sherlock stayed where he was.
"We're not going to be going anywhere anytime soon," Mycroft promised and he watched as his little brother's eyes seemed to go from hope to gratitude to a mix of the two in only a few seconds.
Mycroft cast a glance at the kitchen table, filled with strange looking chemicals that not even Mycroft had seen before.
"Well, I'm not going anywhere anytime soon, but I don't know about Dr Watson and that landlady of yours if you keep putting those chemicals out on the table," Mycroft said, raising an eyebrow and he heard Sherlock give a shaky laugh, turning his head to see his brother's eyes shining. He turned away again to look back at the table, averting his eyes from where tears were shining in his brother's. Sherlock needed some privacy, but he decided that he could stay just a little longer, if only to make sure that Sherlock really was okay.
"Hmm, Mrs Hudson's given up on cleaning them up," Sherlock said.
"Difference between a landlady and a housekeeper," Mycroft sighed, feigning disappointment. Sherlock considered for a moment.
"On second thoughts, I'm more sure that she's a housekeeper than a landlady…" Sherlock said and Mycroft felt himself begin to laugh.
"I'm glad you came," Sherlock said. Mycroft tilted his head at him.
"Me too Sherlock, me too."
John sat down at a table in the café, averting his eyes to anywhere except from where his sister was sitting across from him. She looked a lot like him; he noted as he sat, they had always looked alike. The hair colour was the same, hers shoulder length and straight, and their eyes were practically identical and John had always joked that their parents hadn't bothered to give them different eye colour. To which she'd reply "Thank God they made me taller though, it must be awfully painful on your neck to look up all the time" and John would scowl and tell his dad to knock off the laughing. HE shook off the thought and sat uncomfortably.
"Hey Harry," he mumbled, still not looking up.
"I got you a coffee," she said, "You still take sugar?" She sounded sober, a rarity, and John found himself looking up, finally managing to face her. She gave him a warm smile and he managed a small one back. Despite everything, it was good to see her again; it had been ages since they'd last talked like this. Even longer since they'd last talked like this and hadn't ended up in an argument.
"How have you been?" he asked, hoping it didn't sound as awkward to her as it did to him.
"Listen, John," she said and John couldn't help but think it did sound as awkward to her then, apparently, as she had that concerned, almost annoyed frown on her face like she did when she tried talking to him about important things, "you should have called, I've been worried sick! The explosion at the hospital, it was on the news! I thought you'd been hurt!"
Embarrassed, John felt himself blush. "I never call because when I do, you always manage to be drunk," he said, but as soon as it left his mouth it sounded harsh and John immediately wanted to take it back. Damn, only Harry could make me say something like that just by being concerned, John thought bitterly. Harry looked at him, mouth slightly open and he noticed with shame that she looked hurt, embarrassed.
"Look, Harry, I'm sorry, I just… I've been stressed and-"
"I know, I know…you're right. I…I went to the doctor's office the other day, after the explosion. It made me think, you know, what if you had been hurt?"
"I mean, if you'd have been hurt and I never got to make it up to you? I never got to make it right after the last time we talked and if you'd been hurt then…then I'd never have forgiven myself. And it got me thinking, that I'd never get to make it up to you if I kept on drinking like this. I'd never get to talk to you without us arguing, I'd never be able to call you without being drunk and tell you that I was sorry for arguing… I just… we've never really had the time after dad went away…"
"I don't want us to grow apart like dad did with the rest of us, I don't want that," Harry said, looking down into her coffee, "I mean, it'll be hard, but it'll be worth it, right? I'll feel better won't I? And then, maybe, you won't have to be a stranger anymore".
She laughed and took a sip from her coffee. "I mean, maybe it wouldn't be so hard to keep in touch if we see eye to eye a little bit more," she continued and John looked away, guilt rising so fast and so strong that it choked him.
"Harry, if I knew that you had felt like that then we could have talked, right?"
"Whenever we talked, it ended up in an argument," Harry said slowly.
"But you should have told me. I…I don't want to grow apart either," John said, the guilt making his voice rise a little, but he pushed it back down, "Listen, we don't always have to see eye to eye on things, you… you don't have to change just to talk to me Harry"
Harry looked at him, sorrow in her eyes. "That's what siblings do right? They've got to change a little, well, a lot, sometimes for each other. And besides, it's for the best right?" John thought for a moment and sighed, leaning back.
"Yeah, yeah it is," John agreed, nodding. Harry smiled at him, a lopsided, sad smile, and she raised an eyebrow at him.
"But I'm not the only one who's going to have to change though you know! You're going to have to make some amendments too and that means calling me more often and not getting angry with me so much," Harry cried and John laughed, raising his arms in mock defeat before he nodded, smiling slowly.
"Okay, I…I'll try," John said.
"Good," Harry smiled and she raised her coffee cup, "I'd say that we should toast, but, um, I'd better not, it sounds stupid with coffee"
John grinned. "Well, to change," he said.
"To change," Harry said, "And hey, I mean it, I want you to visit too! In fact, I was planning to have you over you know, next week, you can bring your flatmate; I want to meet him and his brother too! I want to know who you've been hanging around with since you came back!" John laughed, drinking his coffee. Things looked like they were looking up. He knew that Harry had done this before, but this time, something was different. This time, it felt real.
"I promise," John said again and he let Harry continue to talk excitedly and letting himself enjoy another moment with his sister.
Martin Teres smiled, popping a strip of chewing gum into his mouth and chewing loudly, ignoring the look he got from the cabbie driving the car. He sank into the leather upholstery and grinned. I could get used to this. This was what you called a job, high class stuff. He sniffed, pulling out a small Rubik's cube from his pocket and toyed with it absent mindedly. As far as he was concerned, right at this moment, he had nothing to worry about: Mr Leach was now officially out of the picture and as far as he went, that particular job was over. Well, okay, Mr Leach was also ever so slightly a little bit dead, but then that was a technicality, the point was that the job was over. Teres smiled in satisfaction when he filled out a red cross on the cube as he mulled over the expression "Out of the picture". It was just a little, underwhelming really.
Fair play, Leach had been dead for almost a day now, but, Teres thought, oh well and all that. He was, after all, the person who had killed him. The look on Leach's face when he had pulled a Glock on him, it had been priceless. It still made Teres smile to think about it. And now with his recent contract terminated, Teres was rather interested in why he had received another message the other day requesting his services and what a Mr Moriarty could possibly want with 5 of Teres' homemade bomb vests…and what it had to do with Sherlock Holmes. Leaving that mystery for a moment, he made himself presentable as the driver pulled up, the view of the docklands where he was to be meeting the elusive new employer meandering up into the immediate horizon.
"That'll be four pounds and twenty," the cabbie said and Teres caught the disdainful stare he was giving the area outside the car. Teres gave what he meant to be a charming, almost friendly smile.
"I don't like your tone," he said, voice verging on cheery as he stated the fact.
"What do you-"
The sound of the gunshot filled the cab and Teres sniffed, putting away his Glock casually and patted down his sleeves. There was nothing worse than going to a job interview looking scruffy, he thought, and gunpowder is nothing if not messy. Taking in the grey, dingy docks, he straightened out his suit. This looked like one very nice opportunity indeed.
*5 Days Later*
Sherlock stood on the patio, looking out across the trees, noticing the smells of pine and willow as they drifted his way. They reminded him of the park he and Mycroft had gone to as children. Sherlock had always loved that park, the willow herbs down by the canal, the crickets in the long grass by the sycamores. Mycroft had caught one once and Sherlock had marvelled at it long after Mycroft had lost interest. Sherlock let the scents take him back, the strangely perfumed air feeling comforting in the new surroundings. Or at least, as new as the house of John's sister could be. Despite there being the obvious differences, Sherlock couldn't help but notice the obvious similarities in the way Harry kept the house. Trays of cutlery with forks always on the right hand side, clocks had to be central on the mantel piece if they were to be anywhere, books placed categorically on the shelf and not alphabetically. It was strange that Sherlock felt comforted by these things, but it did, it made it feel almost a little like home. And, added to that, John himself was around too, and although Sherlock never admitted it, he had discovered that, in fact, most places had begun to feel like home as long as when he turned around, John was there, right behind him.
Momentarily satisfied by the thought, he returned his attention to the well-trimmed lawn that spread itself outside of Harry Watson's house, deducing ever more details about her as he saw the way she had cut the edges of the grass, the way the roses had been delicately trimmed. He didn't want to get John's hopes up yet, he had been excited for days over the prospect of his sister's well-meaning intentions, but by the looks of things, the rehabilitation was going well for Harry Watson this time around. He wondered if John's agreement to visit today had had any impact on that at all.
At first he had been sceptical of visiting, especially when John had mentioned how he wanted Mycroft to come along too to meet his sister (Sherlock had decided that, in public at least, the show of the brotherly feud was probably still the best front they could put up), but eventually he had agreed, with John's strict instructions that they weren't going till Sherlock had recovered. By the time he had, however, Sherlock had been itching to get out, almost literally running up the walls and despite the still lingering remnants of injury, John had been forced into conceding. Mycroft, on the other hand, was less impressed, looking disapprovingly at his brother the moment he had got into the car on the morning they picked him up from the office and had shot John a murderous look.
"He was going crazy being stuck inside," John explained quickly and Mycroft scowled darkly. "I'm sure you would have done the same"
"I did, one time when he had been injured on a case and had pestered me into letting him out of the house," Mycroft said.
"And I was one of the worst mistakes I ever made. He was the same outside as he was inside and he still managed to injure himself," Mycroft growled. John nodded in agreement.
"I'll get him a tracking device or something so we don't lose him," John ventured and Sherlock had difficulty telling whether he was kidding or not, and whether Mycroft was just moody because it was early morning or he was getting annoyed with John's stubbornness again.
In all honesty, Mycroft had, at first, been sceptical of the flatmate "Dr John Watson", putting him immediately to the test before Mycroft believed he would have had the chance to build up ties with the young Holmes brother. Unfortunately, in Mycroft's eyes, that was apparently untrue as Dr Watson had inexplicably turned down his offer without even hearing it out, opting to return back to 221B…to Sherlock. Mycroft didn't know whether to admire him, or be jealous of him, he had after all built up a trust with his brother in less than a day, something that had taken Mycroft years of hard work and sacrifices. But at the end of the day, he had settled, and John Watson had become one of the few people Sherlock Holmes truly trusted. In all, that was good enough for Mycroft, knowing just how difficult it was to get his brother to trust someone. He would always be wary, always be ready to pounce should the doctor ever harm his brother, but if Sherlock trusted him, then Mycroft could afford to take a little faith on that too. He had to trust Sherlock's judgement.
The three had arrived a little after midday, John grinning ear to ear as he greeted his sister, introducing Sherlock and Mycroft with more exuberance than Sherlock had seen in a long while. Even Mycroft had been on good behaviour, putting his beloved umbrella on the rack as they went through to the living room. Sherlock checked his watch. 4:50. He'd excused himself a moment ago, feigning dizziness and saying that he needed to get some air. John had offered to come with him, but Sherlock had shaken his head, insisting that he should be helping his sister in the kitchen.
"You know, needing some air is a very poor excuse, brother," a voice said behind him and Sherlock whirled around. Mycroft Holmes stood behind him, his entire being at a jaunty angle as he leaned on his favourite umbrella.
"Fooled you for a moment," Sherlock argued.
"Never." Mycroft paused a moment and took a step forwards. "He has a nice sister. It's good to see them getting along"
"Yeah. Looks like we've all had a bit of a wake-up call, if my phrasing is correct," Sherlock said and although his tone was mocking, there was an undertone of seriousness that made Mycroft tilt his head as he looked at him.
"Not really a wake-up call Sherlock, more of a… reawakening, wouldn't you say?"
"Hmm, a little pretentious don't you think?"
"Ah, never little brother, we're Holmes', we're never pretentious," Mycroft said.
"Naturally," Sherlock said, pausing a moment, "And if you ever call me 'little brother' in public again I will most certainly find a way to poison you Mycroft. Contrary to popular belief, I am not a child".
Mycroft smirked and shot him a doubtful glance.
"About mother," Mycroft said, and Sherlock's face fell, "There's to be a funeral on Friday. I was wondering… will you be attending?" Sherlock studied him for a moment, thinking, and then, slowly, he shook his head.
"Will you?" he asked and Mycroft immediately shook his head as well.
"I was only going to go if it was to escort you," Mycroft said, "I think we've both had enough for one lifetime of her, don't you think?" Sherlock let out a long, steady breath and nodded.
"She's gone now, Sherlock, you know that, don't you?" Mycroft said, his eyes becoming concerned as Sherlock seemed to drift away for a moment, only for his eyes to snap back to his brother as he spoke.
"A true master of deduction," Sherlock sniggered and Mycroft rolled his eyes, deciding that that was probably the best show Sherlock could produce right now and that testing it probably wouldn't be a good idea.
Mycroft twirled his umbrella and kept his eye on the tip, swinging it to and fro. "You know, Harry and John have the right idea you know. They're changing, even if it's by a little, or by a lot. Perhaps we could do to do the same," he said. Sherlock gave him a glance, half nervous, half anxious, and Mycroft sighed, stilling his umbrella.
"I just thought, maybe, we don't have to be on exactly the same level all the time Sherlock, that'll never happen. Maybe being different is something that should be bringing us closer…not pushing us away. Instead of always wanting to have it perfect, we could maybe for just one aspect of our lives, settle for a little less than perfect, and if we work with that…I think…I think maybe we've been missing that all along. Perhaps we just need to meet each other halfway?"
Sherlock stared for a long moment, blinking, allowing the words to sink in and the now-familiar lump in his throat was pressing painfully at his neck.
"I'm going to keep working to make this work out Sherlock," Mycroft said, "I promise, I'll look after you… I'm not going to leave you again". And with that, Sherlock felt an arm around his shoulders, before he even saw it, and then it was like he was seven once again, crying on the staircase to his brother all that time ago. It was awkward and it only lasted a few heartbeats, but Sherlock found himself in a position he hadn't felt he'd been in for too long a time. His brother loved him…and he wasn't going to leave, and Sherlock didn't feel afraid any more, or angry. He felt strange, a little scared even of what the future held, but for the moment, that didn't even matter. He coughed out an awkward smile as his brother drew back, Sherlock's arms only just managing to disentangle themselves from where they had clutched at his brother's back.
"Thank you," Sherlock whispered and Mycroft nodded.
"You'd better be in soon, I expect dinner will be ready," Mycroft replied and even thought the disconnected, cold tone was back, the oh-so-ordinary words hit Sherlock like a tidal wave as Mycroft retreated back into the house. It had felt like a family. And not the family he was used to either, with the shouting and the anger and the pain and the sleepless nights, but his family, his real family. The one with Mycroft, and John, and him, and even John's family who didn't even mind him coming over for something as average, as ordinary as dinner. Sometimes the ordinary can be the most extraordinary, Sherlock thought, and the thought resonated in his head.
He wondered as he stared into the house after his brother, if just by chance, what he said was true. That they could just possibly meet halfway. He swallowed and pondered the thought, both fear and inexplicably joy intermingling. Perhaps they wouldn't even need to change at all, but to meet halfway, as the people they were. Sherlock smiled at the idea and turned one last time to look back at the garden, starting when a cry rang out from inside the house and he felt himself blush. Mycroft had obviously found the severed hand that Sherlock had stored in his brother's bag. He chuckled, listening as his brother stormed his way towards the door, and Sherlock readied himself for the small bickering match that was bound to follow. But even that, even the fighting and the arguing, were moments spent with family, with siblings, with his brother, and even those moments were moments to be treasured. Because those moments were the times when even over a long distance, they were one step closer to when, one day, they'd cross each other halfway.
Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the two shall meet,
Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God's great Judgment Seat;
But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed, nor Birth,
When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come from the ends of the earth
A/N Okay, I admit, I nearly cried writing that last line :S My first big fanfic coming to an end? Yeah, I'm sad! :P But it definitely, definitely won't be my last. Despite crazy laptops, failed A/N plans to capture Sherlock, flying monkeys, deadlines and general sleeplessness, I've had so much fun writing this and I really hope that you guys enjoyed reading it as much as I loved writing it! So yeah, if you enjoyed this fic, please feel free to check back on me every once in a while as this most certainly will not be my last Sherlock fic and even if I do write stuff for other fandoms (which I will be doing at some point soon), you can still count on me being knee deep in an idea for a Sherlock fic, he's just too damn writable! :D
Oh, and also, to those who don't understand the title, I got it from Rudyard Kipling's poem, "Never the two shall meet" and it was originally about a horse thief who also happened to be an Afghan chief in the poem who is being chased by a young British colonel, so obviously, it was nothing about brothers, however, in the poem, the colonel falls but the chief does not harm him as he could have done and so the poem shows how two men, so completely different (one from East, one from West) can meet on a common ground, and, as I read somewhere, it is a common ground that is not one made out of riddles or rhetoric but one of equals knowing each other, and I thought that this suited the brothers more and more each time I looked at the poem. So, yeah, just a bit of background there, you learn something new every day :P
And finally: Thank you. To all of you, to each and every person who's sat, stood or laid reading this on laptops, computers, phones and ipods, to each and every ultra-amazing, brilliant, adored, admired and downright loved one of you, because you have made this fic all the more special to write, and all the more worthwhile. You guys have made the entire journey something special so I just want to say: Thank you so, so much, and especially to all those who took the time out of their days to review, favourite and alert. And a special, special thanks to those reviewers that stuck with me since day 1, you guys have spurred me on better than caffeine, better than reruns of Sherlock and even more than my dream of kidnapping Benedict Cumberbatch. Thank you so, so much
To everyone: I hope to hear from you guys again soon and if not, then thanks for joining me for this one I can't wait to write more fics and see you guys again and if that's too long, feel free to drop me a line, whether just to say hi or to pester me/prod me into writing
I hope you enjoyed, and this is me wishing everyone a happy Fanfiction time, a happy summer and a very fortune-filled year:
Yours truly, missing this already,
Storystuff Batman Sheldon Holmes M.D